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Wasting Money In Family Court


Wasting Money In Family Court

Family Court is frequently the setting for high emotions, relentless acrimony, and what can turn out to be very costly litigation. All too often, the proceedings are driven not by what’s in the best interests of the children, but rather by the ego of the parents, who are determined to “win” at all costs.

However, what these parents often overlook is that the financial costs they incur to participate in the unnecessary wrangling between them is actually depriving their own children of needed resources that could be far better spent. Not surprisingly, this reality has not escaped the attention of the courts themselves.

In a case called Beckett v. Beckett, the court said:

Too often, protracted litigation impoverishes separated families. Both parents suffer – and inevitably their children suffer — when limited financial resources are wasted on motions and trials which could have been avoided.

This source of the court’s concern was well-illustrated in another family law case called Delichte v Rogers. There, the mother had attempted to cancel a case management hearing on short notice; this meant that the half-day scheduled time-slot would not be available to other litigants. Pointing out that the time deadlines for filing affidavits and conducting cross-examinations for the case management meetings could not be “casually disregarded,” the court took the mother to task. It said:

The court has a duty to administer its scarce resources wisely and cannot allow litigants to run roughshod over its own process by ignoring deadlines, the rules of court and capriciously failing to show up at scheduled hearings.

But more importantly, the court chastised the mother for wasting the father’s – and by extension, the children’s – money. Even though she was an unrepresented litigant, the court concluded that the mother must or ought to have known that the father would have already incurred significant legal costs in adhering to those same deadlines. The court said:

Somehow the mother is also oblivious to the obvious fact that by running up the father’s legal bills she is also depriving her children of potential financial resources.

Finally, the court added:

The attitude and behaviour that the mother brings to this litigation is troubling as it only increases the intensity of the conflict and creates an environment in which any kind of settlement discussions are impossible.

The message to take from these kinds of cases is this: It’s never wise to run up costs unnecessarily. But leaving aside whether the parents’ disputes have substantive merit, they should never lose sight of who the real victim might be: – it could be the kids.

For the full text of the decisions, see:

Beckett v. Beckett, 2010 ONSC 2706 (CanLII)

Delichte v Rogers, [2013] M.J. No. 113, 2013 MBQB 93 (CanLII)

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at

  1. Cathy #

    I have been trying as the Respondent in a divorce case to resolve matters for 2 years. The Applicant will not pay court ordered child support or produce court ordered financial documents. I am on legal aid and in poverty whilst he has his parents pay for a private lawyer. They are trying to starve me out and it is getting close. I am in despair.

    January 11, 2016
  2. Tom #

    Dear Vaia Pappas.
    CC: The Honorable Tracy McCharles.

    The following case has been in the courts since August 2014, we are now awaiting for hopefully what will be the last settlement conference, and then trial, unless you have to people willing to participate in a amicable separation court cost will skyrocket, and yes who will suffer the most? the children of course.

    I just wrote this morning to the OAG and Tracy McCharles in response to their reply to my previous email to them.

    Yes our son currently has a lawyer and the costs are adding up quickly, and we as a family have become more doubtful of a system that not always acts in the best interests of the of children and the responsible parent.
    Let’s start with the Durham Children’s Aid Society, They were called to the house in 2012 by the mother’s own family doctor because she was forging prescriptions. The CAS went to the house, meat with our son and his wife and assured the CAS that this would be dealt with in-house, they also recommended she go for a psychological assessment closed the file and never followed up.
    The forging of prescriptions never stopped and neither did the shoplifting which by the way she lied about on court documents to obtain a restraining order against her husband (our Son).
    The CAS was involved again in 2014 when our son discovered through his work benefits, that she was seeing multiple doctors and pharmacies, one of which is our own family doctor whom we have had for over 40 years, the evidence that was shared with the CAS regarding the prescription abuse and the 400 ++ narcotics she was obtaining monthly went unnoticed.
    Even though they already head a file on her, the CAS quickly took the mother’s side and encouraged her to obtain a restraining order due to adult conflict in the house.
    And this is where it all started he was thrown out of the house without notice and not telling the children why Daddy was not allowed to come home, the children cried for him every night as they spoke on the phone, they wanted Daddy to come home and that they missed him.
    It was heart breaking to see what this was doing to the children and the Daddy, yet the CAS forged ahead with agreements for the two parties which our son signed, a month later the CAS came back with yet another revised agreement for our son to sign, he had already signed one prepared by the CAS.
    The point I am really trying to make here is that Family courts for the most part make their decisions based on CAS reports, and we all know by news reports of late how that is working, don’t we???
    So don’t tell me that the system in place is working just fine, the parental alienation started immediately after the separation, a year and a half later the custody is 50/50, which the mother proposed as she was sitting with the investigator of the OCL, she cannot handle the two boys, (which she abandoned for two months as the school year ended) our sons children and a 9 year old girl from a previous relationship. That relationship by the way also ended abruptly as he apparently was also abusive. Our son came in to the little girl’s life when she was only a toddler, the only daddy she has ever known.
    The OCL is also involved and the preliminary report disclosed in October of last year is pretty scathing of the mother, nothing on the report about our son.
    Our son was ordered to pay child support which I don’t have a problem with, the spousal support I do, they were only married for three years and co-habited for two prior and she was working. The parental alienation is getting worse by the day, even though the Maternal Grandparent were court ordered to stop and the OCL report also says that it must stop by the mother and the grandparents.
    If our officials think this treatment of hard working loving fathers is OK, then there is definitely something wrong with our system, this is why we see men losing everything and become homeless and in some cases take their own lives.
    Another development in this ongoing saga, the courts ordered the mother to actively seek child support from the little girl’s father which is now back in the picture and possibly living with the mother and the children. This is also a huge concern for our son, how is this effecting his children, this whole mess was no fault of their own .

    January 13, 2016
  3. Matt Grassie #

    Lets be honest…
    It does not take much time, to send costs sky rocketing in family court in Canada…
    When Lawyers are billing at between $175-450/h….
    And people who need representation make between $0-60/h….
    And “They” wonder why people are self-representing?

    January 14, 2016

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